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July - Jian Junyu.

Jian Junyu was born in Dongguan, Guangdong, China in 1949 and has worked as a landscape photographer for the last 10 years. More recently, however, he has devoted his creative energies to photographing stones and rocks. Jian Junyu has published three books; Images from Afar, Land of Splendors and Impressions of Stones. He held his first solo exhibition in Bejing in 2002.

It is not until recently that I have been able to explain in a more appropriate way.  I hope that people will appreciate my pictures as if they are appreciating a rock painting. When they are looking at it, what they see first is not the stone itself, but the image cut on it! In fact I do photograph stones more intensively than any other object. I use stones as a vehicle for colors, lines, textures and patterns, a vehicle for tones, rhythms and melodies, or more precisely, a vehicle for moods and feelings. I have  searched and discovered the things I like in a vehicle like this which can be stones, deserts, running water, barks or anything else.

 I basically embrace the idea  that an abstract piece of work has more room for imagination and affords more food for thought than a concrete one. The question is: How to create an “abstract” photograph? While a painter may allow his imagination free rein and create an image of his own, a photographer can only record the reality of a particular object. For a long time I was unable to find the path to abstract photography. Then the decisive moment came when I was traveling to Lhasa, Tibet from Urumqi, Xinjiang in August, 2000. One sunny morning I drove out of Ritu and soon noticed that the low stone hills on both sides of the valley had been weathered into pieces of irregular stones, round or square, large or small, each with a lovely band of a deep or light orange red round the edge.  When I observed these stones through the lens, my heart leapt for joy, “Isn’t it a Miro?” It was at this moment that I felt as if I had opened the door to the realm of freedom and embarked on a journey of my own to abstract photography.

I am just one of the numerous enthusiasts in China who are crazy about photography. The first time I ever operated a camera was in 1965, the year when I was 16. Today photography has become an essential part of my life and a special language of mine which convey my thoughts and feelings. Being a non-professional photographer means that I don’t earn my living by my photos, which leaves much room for my photographic creation. I don’t have to worry whether my photos can sell or hold back my creative desire so as to cater for the clients’ tastes.

To make the sparks brighter, I need constant self-recharging. So I have kept learning from the work of other photographers and what’s  more, from arts of different schools and from music, especially classical music.

As a beginner, I spent my first years taking holiday snaps and family photos. Since then my photographic career has undergone two major stages: landscape photography and photographs with stones as the main object.
When I started to take landscape photographs, I made a switch from a 135 camera to a medium-format camera. The reason was mainly because there was no need to hurry and I could take full advantage of the tripod.  It was also because a larger format could produce a larger print.

In 1991 I bought a Hasselblad 503CXi camera together with a 40mm, an 80mm, a 120mm, and a 140-280mm lens and have been using them ever since. Later a 500mm lens was included in my kit in order to photograph stones. The reason why I chose Hasselblad from the first was because a photographer friend of mine advised me to. Years of practice have proved that I have made a right choice. So far I have never found any particular need or photographic situation that can’t be suited by my Hasselblad.

Jian Junyu
Translation from Chinese to English: Yuan Shaoying
Editing: Kerstin Fiedler